While the rest of the country was celebrating the Fourth of July, CNN’s senior editor of Mideast affairs, Octavia Nasr, was mourning the death of Hezbollah spiritual mentor and U.S. designated terrorist Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah.
“Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot. #Lebanon,” She posted on her Twitter account on Sunday.
Following a backlash from Jewish and Israel support groups, on Tuesday Nasr apologized for her pro-Hezbollah tweet on CNN’s blog, but did not walk back her initial reverential sentiment.
After a brief expression of regret, Nasr wrote, “I used the words ‘respect’ and ‘sad’ because to me as a Middle Eastern woman, Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman’s rights … It is no secret that Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah hated with a vengeance the United States government and Israel. He regularly praised the terror attacks that killed Israeli citizens. And as recently as 2008, he said the numbers of Jews killed in the Holocaust were wildly inflated.
“But it was his commitment to Hezbollah’s original mission – resisting Israel’s occupation of Lebanon – that made him popular and respected among many Lebanese, not just people of his own sect.”
Despire Nasr’s public expression of regret, CNN spokesman Nigel Pritchard would not go into any details regarding possible repercussions. “We are unable to discuss that at this time,” he said.
Brent Bozell at the conservative Media Research Center was less reserved. “CNN’s pattern of biased reporting extends beyond their coverage of Islam and terrorism, but we’ve recently witnessed just how blatant they are in showing their true feelings about Islamic extremists. Octavia Nasr chose this week to post her sadness about the death of the Hezbollah leader that orchestrated the murder of United States Marines in the 1983 Beirut bombings,” he said. “The only thing that is sad about this situation is that CNN continues to pretend that they are a legitimate, unbiased source of news and that their employees, like this senior editor, get away with public sentiments such as this. It helps explain why they’re in last place in the ratings. CNN is simply no longer trusted as a source of ‘news.’ ”
Upon hearing of Nasr’s statement the pro-Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) contacted CNN to express concern and were pleased with the response. “We welcome CNN’s statement recognizing that Nasr’s tweet was ‘an error in judgment’ and making clear that her action did not meet the network’s editorial standards … We commend CNN for taking this as a serious matter and dealing with it immediately.” the ADL wrote In an e-mail statement to The Daily Caller.
It’s not the first time CNN has faced charges of impartiality on its Middle East reporting. Last year, Little Green Footballs exposed footage of the death of a “freelance cameraman’s” brother in Gaza from an Israeli rocket as fake. In the wake of the Fort Hood massacre CNN reportedly obscured witness accounts that the shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, screamed “Allahu Akbar.” After the failed Christmas Day attempted airline bombing, CNN anchors struggled to link Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s motive with Islamic extremism.